Tuesday, February 28, 2012

No More Mrs. Nice Gal at Work

I couldn't think of a darn thing to say to my boss who had just admonished me in her condescending tone. I really couldn't say anything anyway, for students filled the room. I couldn't tell her off even if I wanted to. I was trapped with the fury in my mind, and helpless
to unleash it.

 This was planned, of course. My bully knew my sharp tongue and chose a time and a place where she could effectively strut her dominance over me. She knew my tongue had to be tied.

According to Dr. Gary Namie, an expert on bullying in the workplace, this scenerio is not unusual due to the personalities of a bully and her victim. The bully is aggressive by nature and has learned through her years of intimidating others that striking first pays off. The victim is put on the defensive, and feels out of control. After a while, the bully sees herself as someone who is above others who are not powerful.

The mindset of her targets is the opposite. They have been taught to be "nice" all of their lives and learn to initiate conversations with ice-breakers and friendly chit chat.

So when confronted with a bully who comes trampling in the china shop to upset the glassware, the target is shocked and completely unarmed with the comebacks needed to chase the bully out. The bully barges on, and over time the victim, unprepared and always one step behind, can suffer caustic effects, not unlike post-traumatic stress disorder.

Namie concludes that the bully is really an office terrorist, ready to attack when someone least expects it. The victim should never feel she is responsible for the attacks.

In my experiences with bullies,I am almost never the only one attacked. Hopefully, the victims in workplaces can share their experiences with each other and confront the bully as
a team.

Keep Kicking Those Bullies!

Source:  Bullies at Work: Bushwhackers by Design     February 24, 2012
             from Who Gets Targeted by Bullies at Work / WBI by Dr. Gary Namie

Article Link:  http://www.google.com/reader/view/#search/bullies/2

Dr. Gary Namie's website at the Workplace Bullying Institute:

Gary Namie | WBI


Photo Credit: <p><a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1499">Image: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

Friday, February 24, 2012

But Mom, It's Not Bullying, It's Just Drama

 Photo credit:  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2617

Teenagers and their parents have always had problems in the communication department. From the latest slang to the language of texting, it can be extremely difficult for a parent to keep up with their jargon. I sometimes wonder if teens develop their own language in order to keep the adults confused!

Teens of course are no different in their sabotage efforts on the computer.  Just as adolescents have for centuries, today's teenagers tend to downplay their problems with others.  The adults in their lives focus on the dangers of communicating online, and are sometimes oblivious to what's really going on.

In an Op-Ed in the New York Times, researchers Danah Boyd and Alice Marwick say that adults need to understand the language of teens before any anti-bullying efforts can ever succeed. But bullied teenagers make this difficult because "they cannot emotionally afford to identify as victims, and young people who bully  rarely see themselves as perpetrators."  Teens rarely identify with the adult terms of cyberbullying and relational aggression, because the psychological cost is too high. When Boyd and Marwick interviewed high school students, many said bullying was not a problem and was more of an issue in the lower grades.

Instead of admitting that bullying did exist, many of the teens (especially girls) said the conflicts that they had were just "drama." Boyd and Marwick concluded that the "drama" term could be a mask to cover more malicious tormenting. Adolescents use the term because it is empowering: having to admit to being a victim makes them feel out of control. The bullies can benefit from "drama" as well. It's easy to say that they were just clowning around than to admit to hurting someone's feelings.

The key component of any ant-bullying program is to make sure teens are educated about what true bullying consists of, and to build their self-confidence so they can feel a sense of empowerment.

So when you hear the words "drama queen"  keep your ears perked. You'll want to make sure your loved one is not the Queen's fool.

Keep Kicking Those Bullies!

Source:  Boyd, D. & Marwick,. (2011, September 13). Bullying As True Drama.The New York Times, 
p. A35. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Do School Anti-Bullying Programs Work?

Image credit:  <p><a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1836">Image: Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

My thirteen-year-old is typically not impressed with school assemblies that attempt to make him a better person. Several of these assemblies have dealt with bullying problems in schools and how kids can help to provide a bully-free environment. Unfortunately he is not impressed with this kind of knowledge either.

Maybe it's because he is a boy (and that he tends to tune out any voice belonging to anyone over the age of 25). According to one study on the effects of bully prevention programs, middle school girls were positively influenced more than the boys after one year. According to researcher Nancy Bowllan, the program had negligible effect on the boys. The teachers felt that they were more effective at identifying bullies, talking to bullies, and conversing with tormented students.

In other words, those who listened benefited!

But do all programs have such mixed results? This is an important question, considering that many states are requiring their school districts to implement anti-bullying programs. In the past, many anti-bully programs have produced few positive effects, according to Kansas University professor Todd Little.

However, there is hope for the bullied, for a recent Finnish anti-bully program has halved the risk of being tormented in after just one year of implementation. The program, called KiVA, includes videos, computer games, posters, and role-playing. Small teams of trained teachers work to address specific incidents of bullying.

The program also emphasizes striving for a bully-free environment--one that encourages bystanders to stand up to the tormentors of the school. Children and teachers need to be educated about the make-up of a typical bully.

"People have traditionally framed bullying as social incompetence, thinking that bullies have low self-esteem or impulse problems," said Patricia Hawley, KU associate professor of developmental psychology. "But recent research shows that bullying perpetrators can be socially competent and can win esteem from their peers."

The key is to keep others from idolizing bullies in order to demolish their support system which would create a more peaceful environment.

The University of Kansas plans to help implement the Finnish program into neighboring schools as soon as the 2012-2013 school year.

Let's hope it works! And the kids listen!

Keep Kicking Those Bullies!

Sources: Pysorg.com

(American Psychological Assoc.)
BOWLLAN, N. M. (2011). Implementation and Evaluation of a Comprehensive, School-wide Bullying Prevention Program in an Urban/Suburban Middle School. Journal Of School Health81(4), 167-173.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cyberbullied Grown Women

Photo Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici   http:/www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogrid=3062

Do you think cyberbullies are just for teens? Apparently not, according to Cheryl Dellasega, author of Mean Girls Grown Up (see my book review on the side bar). Grown women are spending much of their time on the internet, where of course the cyberbullies troll. The attacks can be about a myriad of things including parenting skills, bad romances, or physical appearance. Many women have dropped off certain websites due to being tormented on the internet.

Romi Lassally, author of the website True Confessions, (a site where people anonymously write their secrets), says she sees cyberbullying in about ten percent of the confessions. She says her site offers varying opinions about certain issues and some women look down on others that do things differently than they do. Lassally has the site moderated so she can provide a safe cyber environment.

Dellasega says women cyberbully because the internet provides a mask: they can type nasty comments that they would never say to the person's face.

Isn't that what most of women bullying is about anyway? So often female bullies torment others through indirect means such as spreading false rumors. Many bullies like to avoid the face-to-face confrontation, so the internet is the perfect way to express their wrath, without the consequences of a full-frontal attack.

The best way to stop cyberbullying is to walk away from computer and avoid firing back, according to Dellasega. The bullies want you to fire back, so think before you press the send button. If you know who your tormentor is, you could arrange a meeting with her in order to clear up any misunderstandings on the web.

Well, I haven't had any cyberbullies yet, and I hope I never will! Cyberbulllies, please don't target me! I really don't want to write about my personal experiences!

Keep Kicking Those Bullies!

Source:  Mimi Jung/King 5 News

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Devilish Comebacks for Bullies

Photo Credit:  <p><a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2280">Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

Scene: Two nine-year-old girls waiting for the school musical to start. My daughter's dress is bright red and full of sparkles.

Bully:  You look like a devil in your dress!

My daughter:  Well, you are the devil!

That girl never ceases to amaze me with her snappy comebacks (and she uses them at home too, believe me!) I can put together a clever comeback too--but only nine hours later. I've decided to put together a list for those of you as challenged in the comeback department as I am. Some of these are for kids but others anyone can use. Here goes:

1. Go away. I don't have time to ignore you now.
2. And I thought you were a nice person.
3. Okay, you're better than me. Let's move on.
4. Build your self-esteem another way.
5. My little brother can diss me a lot better than you can.
6. I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message.
7. I can't hear a word you're saying. It sounds like English, but I'm not sure.
8. Yes I am an agent of Satan. But my duties are largely ceremonial.
9. Do I look like a people person?
10. I bet you were up all night working on that one.
11. I refuse to have a battle of the wits with an unarmed person.
12. I've been called worse from better.
13. Wow, did you come up with that all by yourself?
14. Pardon me, but you seem to think that I care.
15. Does your train of thought have a caboose?
16. If I throw a stick, will you leave?
17. Have you been shopping lately? They're selling lives at the mall. Get one.
18. There are several people in this world that I find obnoxious and you are all of them.
19. You're not yourself today. I noticed the improvement immediately.
20. If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

Keep kicking those bullies!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Bullies Pick On Depressed People

If this sad dog was in a fifth grade classroom, his peers would probably give him a swift kick. Who could be so horrible as to hurt someone already in the dumps? Plenty of kids, as it turns out. According to a recent study done by the Arizona State University School of Social and Dynamics, kids in fourth through sixth grade tend to bully those with depression. The kids that show depressive symptoms such as crying and excessively talking about their problems are not very accepted by their peers

 I imagine the bullies as sharks, swimming toward their target at the first whiff of blood. Must children be such animals? Is it survival of the fittest in the dark waters of elementary classrooms?

Another question the study brings up is whether a bullied child has an increased risk for depression later in life. The answer is a surprising NO! The study began in 1992, so the children back then would be adults today. Apparently the bullied ones in elementary school did not report any depression due to their earlier traumas.

I personally find this hard to believe--I've seen several websites/blogs where the adults were obviously affected by the tormentors of their grade school years. Perhaps they were merely sad about the old times, but not clinically depressed.

Hopefully we can teach our children to be the ones to throw a bone at their depressed friend (as someone did to the dog in the picture). Though it can be difficult to help the odd one out, kids need to stand up to the bullies and put their arms around those in need of friendship and understanding.

Keep Kicking Those Bullies!

Source: CBS News  http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2012/02/08/depression-bully.html

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Walking the Tightrope of Cyberspace--Coping with Cyberbullying

The poor girl--not only does she have an ugly green dress, but it looks like she might fall into the endless depths of cyberspace. This is where she could smack into the internet bullies floating around (who, no doubt would make fun of her dress, and probably her earmuffs).

Unfortunately, there is much more to stake here than a bad wardrobe. Female cyberbullies can be downright vicious.Over one third of the adolescent girls surveyed in a study done by the Cyberbullying Research Center (see the link on the sidebar) have been bullied online.  Name calling and the spreading of false rumors are quite common in cyberspace. Online threats, though rarer, still happen at an alarming rate--11.2 % of the 3,141 young girls surveyed reported being physically threatened.

Exactly who are these cyberbullies? Here are the statistics:

31.3% were friends from school (talk about frenemies!)
36.4% were other people from school
28.2% were from a chat room
20.5% unknown!

When the researchers asked a girl about her emotions when she was cyberbullied, she said, "It makes me scared. I [sometimes don't] know the person and that gets me pretty scared."

That is scary! At least back in the day we could put a face to our bullies. We could even figure out their handwriting in their nasty notes to us. How frightening it must be to those girls who have no idea where the venom spewed at them comes from. It's so easy for the bullies to mask their identities on the internet, which of course leads to no accountability.

The girls in the study did take some measures to avoid cyberbullying by talking to their parents, contacting their internet service provider, and limiting there use of the internet. No one mentioned contacting law enforcement.

Although most of the girls being harassed online did not experience any significant emotional distress, it's the few that we really worry about. Recently a 15-year-old girl named Amanda Cummings jumped in front of a bus. She was cyberbullied on Facebook before and even after her death.

Would Amanda still be alive if she was bulllied in the traditional way? We'll never know, but we must not put up with the torment of others, either in the cyber world or the physical world.

I wish you all peace this day.

Sources: Burgess-Proctor, A.,Prachin,J.W., & W.,Hinduja, S. (2010). Cyberbullying and online harassment: Reconceptualizing the victimization of adolescent girls.